Inter completed the most incredible, dramatic turnaround at the Olimpico to beat 10-man Lazio 3-2 and enter the Champions League.
This was a pure play-off for entry into the Champions League, as Inter had to win in order to catch them on points and go in front with a superior head-to-head record. Ciro Immobile made his comeback just three weeks after a thigh strain and Stefan de Vrij started against the club he will be joining next month, but Luis Alberto and Marco Parolo were injured. Roberto Gagliardini was only fit for the bench, but Joao Miranda returned in defence.
Immobile got to the by-line, pulled back to find unmarked Luiz Felipe, but the defender ballooned over from seven yards. Samir Handanovic then performed a great reaction save on the Sergej Milinkovic-Savic free header.
Lazio’s pressure paid off in bizarre fashion, as Adam Marusic’s strike was going off target from the edge of the box, until it smacked Ivan Perisic in the face and ricocheted into the far bottom corner.
Mauro Icardi was gifted the chance to equalise when intercepting a poor Stefan Radu pass, but horribly scuffed his finish wide when clear on goal.
Milinkovic-Savic again threatened, his free kick thumping the top of the near post from the edge of the box.
Inter equalised in chaotic circumstances, as a corner was somehow bundled over the line at the second attempt by Danilo D’Ambrosio. Thomas Strakosha appealed for a foul, but D’Ambrosio appeared to make contact cleanly both times.
Just as Inter were putting pressure on, they were caught by a classic counter-attack on their own corner. Senad Lulic threaded the through ball to release Felipe Anderson, who used his pace to surge past defenders and place a snooker shot into the far bottom corner.
Milinkovic-Savic’s scorcher from distance stung Handanovic’s gloves and Perisic saw a half-volley fly over.
Perisic twice got on the end of smart Brozovic assists, but both times Strakosha was alert to smother, while Felipe Anderson’s counter was just wide.
There was controversy on 75 minutes, as Marusic mis-kicked from a corner and it struck Milinkovic-Savic right at the top of the arm, where it meets the shoulder. The referee awarded a penalty, but then viewed it again on VAR and decided to change his mind.
Moments later, the referee did point to the spot, because Strakosha under pressure had a misplaced clearance and De Vrij – the future Inter player – mistimed his lunge on Icardi. Mauro Icardi kept his cool to convert the spot-kick and equalise. It also put the Argentine on 29 goals, level with Immobile in the Capocannoniere charts.
The drama ramped up several levels, as Lazio simply fell apart. Lulic received a second yellow card for a late tackle on Brozovic and within 120 seconds Inter had turned the game around to lead 3-2. Brozovic’s corner found Matias Vecino for a glancing header at the near post that flew into the far top corner.
Lazio seemed exhausted and stunned. Jordan Lukaku provided fresh legs off the bench and they earned a series of late corners, but not enough to turn it around.
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Sent off: Lulic 79 (L)